Tony Miles went to the Sunshine Coast for a holiday, never expecting open heart surgery would be on the itinerary.
But when the fit 71-year-old Tokoroa man went for a swim at Mooloolaba Beach in September, he discovered he had a dangerous restriction of the aortic valve.
And he discovered the condition in the worst way possible.
Doctors said he was a walking time bomb when he went for a swim at the beach with his son.
Minutes later he was floating face down in the shallow water after fainting.
"I thought I had been dumped by a few waves, but I don't remember much," Miles said.
"All I know is the next minute I was face down on the sand with copious amounts of water coming out of me."
Beach patrols had just ended for the day and a group of Mooloolaba Surf Club members, including lifeguard Ricky Smith, were nearby training for a competition.
Ricky and 11 others ran to Miles' aid.
Now Miles is back on the coast to say thank you to the team who saved his life.
He handed over special awards at Friday night's Mooloolaba Surf Club annual presentation event.
"This is a good way of closure for me and my family," Miles said.
"It is like a full circle for us, so to be able to come and meet the guys again and say thank you is just wonderful.
"I just want to say a big thank you to the club. It's difficult to find the words to thank someone that has saved your life."
After the rescue, Miles underwent surgery at Prince Charles Hospital in Brisbane. He was now fighting fit and said he was feeling good.
"The cardiologist told me this could have happened at any time, but it happened in the water, it's just one of those things. I had no idea, no symptoms until this." Sunshine Coast Daily